Five Lessons About Women in Business

Photo: M&C Saatchi

Here is a brief excerpt from an article written by Carrie Hindmarsh and featured by the Wall Street Journal‘s blog, “The Source.” To read the complete article, check out other resources, and obtain subscription information, please click here.

She is CEO of M&C Saatchi Group’s advertising agency. Also, she is a judge at the Veuve Clicquot Business Women of the Year Awards in London.

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Here are two (of five) lessons about women in business that she has learned from her extensive experiences in the advertising industry over the 21 years she has been in the sector and from her journey to the boardroom.

Lesson One: Difference Matters

At the beginning of my career, there were only a few women in senior positions in advertising where I have built my career. The industry had a deserved reputation as a boys-only club, and I’d often find myself to be the lone female in meetings.

As a woman in business then, you did need to be a little more persistent, a little more vocal. Change had been slow until five or so years ago, when suddenly, it seemed, women were everywhere.

There are many women in senior positions at M&C Saatchi these days, and increasingly in other large, traditionally male-dominated agencies. The most successful senior women I’ve worked with over the years, however, aren’t wannabe men, rather they are just really talented women.

I’ve learned that trying to be like someone else, because of a perceived advantage, doesn’t work in any part of life, least of all in business. There is no room for imposters in any part of a successful enterprise.

Women should be celebrating their different skills, their unique view and using their different life experiences to enhance their contribution in business.

Women aren’t a homogenous, one-size-fits-all group with a single voice. We are all different and valued whatever our gender. This ethos stretches across everything — we demand diversity in approach and thinking and a forum where all views are heard.

It’s not tokenistic or politically correct; in fact, it’s much more prosaic – different people, with opposing views, working to a common goal, to produce the best, most tested, challenged and robust work.

Lesson Two: Identify What Should change and What Should Stay the Same

Well-known advertising brands need to apply the same principles to their own business as they do to their clients’ brands — same thinking, same flexibility, same creativity. Knowing what to keep and what to change is really important to any business, and had a particular impact on advertising agencies as digital marketing began to boom, for instance.

I think what most of us miss, is that this is true of people as well as brands. I have spent most of my life in the same organisation, and change can feel overwhelming. But an honest appraisal of what’s working and what’s not is the key to success.

You need to be an expert in what you do, but understand and embrace where you need help, need to re-evaluate and change course. Success for brands, agencies and people means constantly checking that you are holding fast to your basic principles, whilst embracing a constantly evolving communications world.

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To read the complete article, please click here.


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